By Michael Burns | on April 14, 2008
Price When Reviewed: 219 . 66
Pros: pros: Competitively priced; extensive plug-in management and customization; GPU hardware acceleration; redesigned interface; integrated into host application; RSS News World and other strong effects.
Cons: cons: For Apple video applications only; less filters than competition; some plug-in require Final Cut Pro 6 and Mac OS X 10.5; node-based customization is complicated for non-technical users.
FxFactory Pro 2 is a collection of filters, generators and transitions for Apple’s Final Cut Pro, Motion and Final Cut Express, offering 122 effects, including 52 new plug-ins.
All the plug-ins appear within the host application, and can be controlled and applied like native effects. This version offers a redesigned interface complete with previews and a handy search function.
We found a good selection of popular effects in this collection, including some that are comparable to the new filters offered in one of the market leaders, Boris Continuum Complete (BCC) 5.0: Scanline resembles BCC Scan Lines, Neon Glow is similar to BCC Led, while Old TV matches Damaged TV (though the FxFactory version includes an option to display a ‘reflected’ image on the screen).
Some effects were completely new to us, however, such as the RSS World News plug-in, which runs a news-style feed from the Web into your footage. It was easier to apply in Motion than Final Cut Pro, but this plug-in would be handy for assembling a news bulletin intro.
Rendering video in an illustration style is popular at the moment, so the well-stocked Stylize category now adds Artist Sketch and Artist Sketch Color, which rapidly simulate hand-drawn sketches. Pencil Sketch produces a rougher, more scribbled effect. All three are effective at the default setting, but footage with less contrast will need tweaking.
Other new additions include Random Crop, which creates an animation by dicing up the screen, and Light Streaks, which creates animated smears of light, based on a specified luminance range in the original image. All the effects render quickly, using the graphics hardware in the Mac rather than the CPU to accelerate the process.
There are several filter collections available for the major non-linear editing applications, but unlike most other packages, FxFactory Pro offers an extra management application.
As well as allowing you to expand the number of plug-ins by adding more FxPacks, this management centre makes it simple to customize filters, adjusting the parameters of existing filters to create new effects.
Because the plug-ins are based on the Apple Quartz architecture, FxFactory Pro takes advantage of the built-in Quartz Composer in Mac OS X to drill down and edit the composition behind each plug-in via a node-based interface. A preview screen and a direct editing link from the FxFactory Pro dialog help the customization process. This way of working will be familiar to most professional compositors.
There’s a contextual help button in each plug-in dialog box that calls up an informative PDF, but a decent manual would be welcome. FxFactory Pro is available only for Apple’s video products (with some features reserved for FCP 6.0) and it doesn’t quite match up to some of the competition, such as BCC’s 180 plug-ins. However, FxFactory Pro is significantly less expensive. This, and the plug-in customization make it a strong contender in its market.